Today is the last day of 2016 and it has been a tumultuous year both in the world and, I feel, for me personally. I hope 2017 is calmer, more peaceful and more fulfilling, for all of us. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite photos of this past year, of places I’ve been lucky to visit and things I’ve enjoyed. Happy New Year to all of you.
My niece has been asking me to take her to London to see the Christmas lights and yesterday I thought I’d show her around. We started at Trafalgar Square to see the fountains, lions, Nelson’s Column and the huge festive tree. After a walk around we went to Leicester Square where there was a Christmas market and we treated ourselves to some sweet mini pancakes.
We then walked towards Oxford Street to see the lights there and maybe take a peek at the sales in a few shops, before stopping for a much needed lunch. Carnaby Street was next on out destination, which has some interesting artworks and displays.
As it got darker and the lights began to shine we went on to St Christopher’s Place, another little place that’s hidden away.
We finished at Marble Arch after a fun but tiring day. My niece said I sounded like a tour guide pointing out landmarks, so hopefully I did a good job.
I’m not sure where the path of destiny will take me but I’m keen to find out in time to come. This path is uncertain and may look unwelcoming, but it shows potential for beauty to blossom as the days go by.
London Zoo is the oldest scientific zoo in the world, and it’s one that I never got round to visiting, until now. On the day that I went it was cold but bright, meaning that I would get some good photos and that it wouldn’t be too busy; I think I was right on both counts.
On arriving I first headed towards the small mammals area. They looked curious and peeped out from their hiding places to see who had come to visit. After a quick look I headed towards the lions that are newly housed there and were one of the reasons that I wanted to visit. As they were one of the main attractions the area was decorated and staged as if it could be an authentic Indian village, with colourful paintings and props. The lions themselves were huge and very impressive and with only a pane of glass between them and us, I was able to have a look up close and see the might of such creatures.
Next I went on to see the petting animals where they had some tiny, super cute kids that you could feed and play with and that the young children seemed to enjoy. The llamas and camels were nearby too that I could see. A short distance away, the tigers were housed. The adult tiger was very active and difficult to photograph but my patience paid off when I managed to get a clear photo. I was also rewarded with seeing the beautiful baby cubs, playing and running around.
As it was coming up to Christmas there were reindeer out on walks with zookeepers, meaning that I was able to get close. Onwards I went to see one of my favourite animals, the giraffes, making me happy upon reaching their enclosure. I always find giraffes surreal looking with their long necks and gangly legs. I loved that they were so close it seemed that if they really stretched, they could easily lick my camera.
The path then led me onto the Reptile house which had some quite scary looking but beautiful reptiles from around the world.
There were some magnificent birds at the zoo too, some that could fly and some that couldn’t, each with their own colourful and unique features. Some were in cages but the larger ones were left in an open space, making me wonder why they hadn’t flown away.
I had a quick walk around the Bug house but as I’m not a fan I didn’t hang around too long. What I did find surprising was that there were live ants on display that didn’t have any glass around them. They were Leaf-cutter ants and looking carefully closer I could see each of the ants marching back and forth across a rope carrying tiny pieces of a leaf to take back to its home. I didn’t take too many photos of this area as bugs aren’t too appealing to me but it was amazing to see some of the numbers enclosed such as the hundreds of locusts and various stick insects. I sharply made a turn into the aquarium next, to warm up and see the pretty fish. Amongst all the diverse fish in tanks I was pleased to come across some miniature blue starfish too.
Lastly I came across the Butterfly house, where I was debating whether to go in or not, seeing as I don’t particularly like flying things (apart from birds). I did decide to enter thinking I could make a sharp exit if it wasn’t for me, and I was really glad I did. Once my camera stopped fogging up in the warmer temperature of the area, I could see some beautiful, exotic butterflies flitting around, including the Glasswing Butterfly which I’ve already posted about. There was an array of brightly coloured butterflies, most of which were too fast to capture, but after ducking and flinching about a hundred times I think I managed to get some nice photos. There were also moths in the house but they were largely inactive being night time creatures. The Atlas moths were amazing, I wasn’t sure they were real at first due to their stillness and size; each wing being the size of my hand, but as always, nature astounds.
There were so many other animals around too, such as the gorillas and monkeys, penguins, Komodo Dragons and tortoises, to mention a few. Some weren’t easy to photograph or even see but the vast variety of the animals in London Zoo is amazing. I know zoos can be seen as bad places that imprison animals; I did feel particularly sad for the big cats and caged birds, but as the world we live in is increasingly destroying habitats, I feel a place like London Zoo can help preserve and protect some endangered animals. I spent most of the day looking around and there was still areas I missed as the place is huge. I really enjoyed seeing all the different animals and their colourful and varying feathers, scales, fur and skin, and I feel like I learnt lots too.
Most kids these days love computers, phones and generally anything electronic so I was amused to see that my nephew had been working on creating a ball made of rubber bands. He told me he’d been working on it for hours and it seemed like he felt a sense of accomplishment to make something with his hands and see it grow and grow. It won’t break any records for it size but it’s nice to see that he enjoyed a more physically creative and colourful activity.
This brilliantly, vibrant blue wall commands attention, and the worn doors and window shutters resting against it adds dimension, contrast and shape. I find the blue soothing and relaxing, like the sea on a hot summer’s day, a view to get lost in and for daydreaming.
I recently went to London Zoo (more photos coming soon), and one of the creatures I saw that absolutely fascinated me was the Glasswing butterfly. I’d seen this butterfly online a couple of years ago and was awed by how pretty and delicate it looked. I also remember believing that I would never see one for myself as they are native to South and Central America. I was so pleased to have been wrong about that.
Walking through the butterfly house and seeing these lovely butterflies fluttering around made me feel incredibly lucky. Of all the various butterflies in the house these were one of the most calm meaning that I was able take some close up photos.
These Glasswing butterflies look almost mythical, with their opaque, stain glass like wings. Having shown my photos to family members I was repeatedly asked whether they were real, and I was happy to say that they were, having seen them with my own eyes